Responsibility in Architecture


Responsibility is a big concern in architecture.

Think about it: you live in a city or urban setting designed by urban planers and architects and most likely your house or residence is designed by someone in the design profession as well. Architecture has a very direct relationship to one’s day-to-day life.

All the responsibility cannot be put into the hands of architects – many other factors play a part, like politics, financing, and the influence of developers and public opinion. All can influence the design and development of a project – but the architect is at its core and is the connector of these many dots.

So the question architects are faced with is: who are we designing for and how much responsibility do we have to serve those entities? When designing in New York, you have a responsibility towards your client since you are dealing with his or her money (and money is a motivating concern for clients). In larger projects, the architect has an additional responsibility to the inhabitants of the building. The effects of creating a positive and healthy environment for residents are long-lasting. On a larger scale, one has a responsibility to all the inhabitants of the city. You need to create something that engages with the population on a formal as well as spatial and programmatic level. Offering a community space within a building could potentially support some of the local activities that help the neighborhood and positively affect the city at large. Therefore, one’s responsibility extends past the initial client and resident to the larger community.

Lastly, there is nature. As buildings account for 40% of all energy consumed globally, this is a big one – and one that cannot be solved by one architect alone. The architecture profession has a responsibility to usher in the most efficient and environmentally friendly buildings the world has yet seen. Each project an architect accepts should be viewed through this environmental reality.

In our praxis, we try to balance these elements with the result being added value for our client, and results in a more attractive project in which an investor feels comfortable investing. This inadvertently can have a positive PR effect, in addition to a tax benefit, and maybe even a new business opportunity that had not been there before.

About The Author

Matthias Hollwich is principal of HOLLWICHKUSHNER, LLC, a New York City based architecture and concept design firm. He is also co-founder of ARCHITIZER, a social networking platform connecting architects via their designs. Matthias is driven by the aim to upgrade man-made environments on a human and engaging scale with an ECONIC twist and can be best reached at (

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